Pilgrims Day 7: Colonial Schools

Colonial Schools

Today we got to learn about the children and schools in the colonial times.


  • A Day in the Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher by Kathy Wilmore
  • Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey pgs. 237-244
  • A Beka Our America (pg. 105-111)

Discuss: No all American children go to school, but in colonial days only the ones who could afford to pay for it could go to school. Most of the colonist were farmers and the children had to stay home and help on the farm rather than go to school. There were no vehicles, cars or school buses, so the children walked to school. All grades met in a one room school house for 6 days a week. The teacher was called a schoolmaster and he was usually very strict. There were no books or blackboards so the colonial children learned to read from a hornbook. A hornbook was a thing sheet of paper with a reading lesson written on it and it was place on a piece of wood with a handle. A thin sheet of animal horn that you could see though was placed over the paper. The first school book that was used was the New England Primer. It taught the alphabet with bible rhymes.

Comprehension Questions:

  1. What was a colonial schoolteacher called? Schoolmaster
  2. What special book did the colonial school children learn to read from? Hornbook
  3. What book taught the colonial school children the alphabet? New England Primer
  4. How did the colonial children get to school? Walking
  5. How many days a week did colonial school children go to school? 6 days a week

Colonial Marbles


  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 5/8 cup water
  • wax paper
  • food coloring


  1. Mix cornstarch, baking soda, and water over med heat until ball forms.Pilgrims Study (105)
  2. Dump it to cool a bit on the wax paper.Pilgrims Study (104)
  3. Mix in a few drops of food coloring with the dough.
  4. Shape the dough into small round marbles.Pilgrims Study (106)
  5. Allow to harden and play marbles.Pilgrims Study (108)

Colonial Snickerdoodles


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


  1. In a mixing bowl cream sugar and butter until light.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Blend in milk and vanilla.
  4. Stir together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; stir into creamed mixture.
  5. Form dough into one-inch balls.
  6. Place balls two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
  7. Lightly flatten balls with the sugared bottom of a tumbler.
  8. Bake at 375 until done. 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about 8 dozen. Pilgrims Study (107)

Colonial Hornbook

Discuss: There were no books or blackboards so the colonial children learned to read from a hornbook.  A hornbook was a thin sheet of paper with a reading lesson written on it and it was placed on a piece of wood with a handles.  A thin sheet of animal horn that you could see though was placed over the paper.


  • Brown Cardborad
  • Scissors
  • Lined Paper
  • Pen
  • Wax Paper


  1. Cut a hornbook shape from the cardboard.Pilgrims Study (109)
  2. Trim the piece of lined paper slightly smaller than the hornbook.
  3. Write a Bible verse or alphabet on the lined paper and glue it to the cardboard.Pilgrims Study (110)
  4. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit over the hornbook.Pilgrims Study (111)
  5. Stand up in front of you family and read your hornbook.Pilgrims Study (112)Pilgrims Study (113)

Colonial Children Venn Diagram
Discuss:  Colonial children are different that children now.  Also colonial boys had different jobs that the girls.  For this Venn Diagram you can either do Colonial Children verses Today’s Children or Colonial Boys verses Colonial Girls.


  • Hula Hoops
  • Note Cards
  • Marker


  1. Write one fact on each note card plus make title cards.
  2. Lay the hula hoops on the floor overlapping a bit.
  3. Place one title card in each hula hoop.
  4. Child places the fact cards in the correct hula hoop.Pilgrims Study (114) Pilgrims Study (115)

Colonial Boys vs. Girls:


  • Cleaned
  • Baked Bread
  • Sewed Clothes
  • Cooked Meals
  • Served Meals
  • Stayed Home


  • Hunted
  • Fished
  • Went to School
  • Built Houses
  • Watched the Cornfields


  • Rode on the Mayflower
  • Turned Turkeys
  • Made Indian Friends
  • Wore Dresses
  • Dug for Clams
  • Shucked Corn
  • Made Matresses

Colonial Children vs. Todays Children:

Colonial Children:

  • Made their Toys
  • Wood Houses
  • Ate Wild Turkey
  • Only Boys went to School
  • Wore Dresses as Babies
  • Made up Thanksgiving
  • Made Matresses
  • Sailed on the Mayflower
  • Made up their own Games
  • Build Houses
  • Hunted for Food

Today’s Children

  • Have Money
  • Have Electricity
  • Ride in Cars
  • Cook in Ovens
  • Buy Toys from the Store
  • Boys & Girls go to School
  • Have Air Conditioning
  • Buy Food at the Store
  • Have i-phones
  • Buy Houses
  • Wear different kinds of Clothes


  • Are People
  • Live in America
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving
  • Ride in Boats
  • Have Chores
  • Love America
  • Wear Clothes

Pilgrim Unit Study

Day 1: The Separatists

Day 2: The Mayflower

Day 3: Plimouth Plantation

Day 4: Wampanoag & Squanto

Day 5:  The First Thanksgiving

Day 6:  The Colonists

Day 7:  Colonial Schools